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List Of Ten (10) Most influential traditional rulers in Nigeria

With over 300 tribes, Nigeria is a country of diverse tribes, cultures and ‘monarchies’, as it were.

But unlike some countries which have a universal monarch wielding varying degrees of influence in the country’s governance and socio-political space, Nigeria has several traditional rulers who wield power and considerable influence over their territories.


Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar I 

1. Sultan of Sokoto: Standing as the president-general of the Nigerian National Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs(NSCIA) and de-facto spiritual leader of Muslims in Nigeria,Sultan Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar I is the 20th Sultan of Sokoto. The Sokoto caliphate is one of the most ancient societies in Nigeria, dating as far back as 1804 and the Sultan wields considerable influence over the Fulanis and Hausas in northern Nigeria.

Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi 

2. Emir of Kano: Another highly influential traditional position currently held by Emir Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, the Emir of Kano serves as the leader of the Tijaniyya sufi order in Nigeria, which is historically the second most important Muslim position in Nigeria after the Sultan of Sokoto.

Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi 

3. Ooni of Ife: The traditional ruler of Ile-Ife is in many ways regarded as the custodian of the Yoruba culture as Ile Ife is regarded as the ancestral home of the Yorubas in South West Nigeria. The royal Ife dynasty can be traced back to over 500 BC and was pioneered by Ooni Odùduwà. Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi, who will be presented with a staff of office today, currently sits as the 51st Ooni of Ife.

Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona

4. Awujale of Ijebuland: Oba Sikiru Kayode Adetona sits as the current Awujale of Ijebuland. Ijebuland is one of the ancient kingdoms in Yoruba land, dating as far back as the 15th century.

Oba Rilwan Akiolu
5. Oba of Lagos: Serving as the Oba of Lagos since 2003 isOba Rilwan Akiolu. The official residence of the king has been in existence since 1630 and though the oba has no political power, he is sought as a counsel or sponsor by politicians who seek support from the various residents of Lagos. Oba Akiolu generated a lot of controversy during the 2015 Lagos state gubernatorial elections when he made perceived threats against Igbos.
Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo III 

6. Alake of Egbaland: Oba Adedotun Aremu Gbadebo III has ruled Egba kingdom since 2005. The first Alake of Egbaland wasSagbua Okukenun who ruled between August 1854 to 1862.

Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi III 

7. Alaafin of Oyo: Oba Lamidi Olayiwola Adeyemi IIIascended the throne in 1970, after taking over from his fatherOba Adeyemi II Adeniran, who was deposed and exiled in 1954 for sympathizing with the National Council of Nigerian Citizens (NCNC). The Oyo empire is one of the oldest in Nigeria, dating as far back as the 15th century. It was the most politically important state in South West Nigeria from the mid-17th to the late 18th century and extended its tentacles to as far as the Fon Kingdom of Dahomey in the modern Republic ofBenin.

Late Oba of Benin, Oba Erediauwa 

8. Oba of Benin: The Oba of Benin or Omo N’Oba, is the traditional ruler of the Edo people and head of the historicEweka dynasty of the Benin Empire, which dates as far back as 1180. Oba Erediauwa (His Royal Majesty Omo n’Oba n’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo Erediauwa I) till his death earlier in the year, was the 38th Oba of Benin, having ascended the throne in 1979.

Late Olu of Warri, HRM. Ogiame Atuwatse II 

9. Olu of Warri: The Olu of Warri serves as the traditional ruler of the Itsekiris in Delta state, South South Nigeria. Warri kingdom dates as far back as 1480 when Ginuwa, a prince of Benin founded the Iwerre (Warri) Kingdom. Until his death in September 2015, Atuwatse II A.K.A Godwin Toritseju Emikoserved as the 19th Olu of Warri.  Prince Ikenwoli Godfrey Emiko was consequently appointed as the Olu-designate, but he will not however ascend the throne for at least three lunar months in line with the tradition of the Itsekiri people. In the meantime, in line with Section 8 of the Traditional Rulers and Chiefs Edict, 1979 of the defunct Bendel State, a regent (Oloriebi  – Head of the Ruling House, Dr Duakpemi Andrew Ayu) will oversee the affairs of the king pending the coronation of the Olu.

Igwe Nnayelugo Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe 

10. Obi of Onitsha:  The Obi of Onitsha is the traditional leader of Onitsha, Anambra State, southeast Nigeria. The post of the Obi is recognised by the state and federal governments of Nigeria and is currently held by Igwe Nnayelugo Alfred Nnaemeka Achebe.

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